If you've read our review of Intel's new Sandy Bridge CPUs, you'll know they're the hottest ticket in town. They're also a little too fresh to be receiving much in the way of discounts. However, the strong performance, low power consumption, and fully unlocked upper multiplier offered by the latest K-series Core i5 and i7 CPUs makes them a excellent deal at current prices.
The most attractive K-series option for budget-minded folks is the Core i5-2500K, which offers quad cores with a 3.3GHz base clock speed and a 3.7GHz Turbo peak. Newegg is selling the 2500K for $225, which is just $9 more than Intel's asking price for the CPU in 1,000-unit quantities. If you've got a hankering for Hyper-Threading, the Core i7-2600K is available for $330. The 2600K gets you an extra 100MHz on the base and Turbo clocks, and it can execute eight thread in parallel, compared to just four on the 2500K.
Newegg's prices look to be in line with those from other e-tailers. However, if you happen to live near one of Micro Center's retail outlets, you can arrange an in-store pickup for the 2500K and pay only $180. That's a heck of a deal, and Micro Center has 23 locations spread across the United States. Unfortunately, none of them seem to carry the 2600K.
Although it's common for PC hardware to cost a little more north of the border, NCIX is selling Sandy Bridge CPUs at pretty much the same prices as Newegg charges in the US. Canadians can get their hands on the 2500K for $225 and will pay $329 for the 2600K. NCIX's weekly sale also includes a number of Sandy Bridge combo deals that offer savings of $35-70 on the 2500K when it's combined with a Noctua NH-U12P heatsink or select motherboards from Asus and MSI. NCIX offers free in-store pickup if you live near one of its BC or Ontario locations, as well.
For the 73% of you who aren't planning an imminent Sandy Bridge upgrade, we have a couple of alternatives. Newegg has knocked $45 off the price of OCZ's Agility 2 60GB solid-state drive, bringing it down to $115. That's just $20 more than Intel's 40GB X25-V, and the extra 20GB is easily worth spending more. Also discounted today is Corsair's dual-channel Vengeance 8GB DDR3 memory kit, which has likewise dropped to $115. The Vengeance modules are capable of running at speeds up to 1600MHz on just 1.5V, and Corsair covers 'em with a lifetime warranty. I've been using Vengeance modules for all my Sandy Bridge motherboard testing, and they've been excellent thus far.